The return of DJ Liz . . . artiste shares music calling, motherhood & comeback

The Chronicle

Langalakhe Mabena

DJ Liz does not need any introduction to the arts industry because her works speak volumes of her prowess on the decks.

She is a giant and she is good at what she does.

DJ Liz has shared the stage with many South African DJs that include DJ Tira, Fresh, Oskido, Black Coffee, Shimza, Maphorisa and Kabza De Small.

That on its own proves the virile DJ Liz possesses in the male-dominated deejaying industry.

DJ Liz who developed a soft spot in music at the tender age of six, says she never saw herself becoming a wheel spinner.

She however, dreamt of being a singer.

When she enrolled for her tertiary education, her first choice was to study music production but because of her strict parents, who did not value the arts as a profession, she could not pursue the career of her dreams.

Any career in showbiz is deemed unpaying and a waste of time as many parents believe the arts do not take one anywhere in life or put food on the table.

Born Sharmaine Lizzie Waldman, DJ Liz is one of the many children denied a right to choose their careers by parents.

Her mother insisted that she study Human Resources as she believed it was better than music production.

“I was raised by my grandmother as mum was absent because of work and stuff.

As young as six years old, I was exposed to different kinds of music because my granny was a fanatic.

At school, I was that kid who knew each and every song that was a banger for that period.

I would write lyrics of these songs on my auto book. I was the source of most music lyrics for many girls at secondary school and that’s when I realised that I had a passion for music,” said DJ Liz.

She said when it was time to enrol for tertiary education, she wanted to study music production but her mother refused.

“She insisted that I study human resources which she said was better than music,” said DJ Liz.

South Africa has a diversified music culture. It is the mother of popular culture and a trendsetter in the African showbiz scene.

And when DJ Liz was in her first year at the University of KwaZulu Natal, she couldn’t run away from her musical calling and was eventually initiated into deejaying behind her parents’ back.

Even when she was back at home on holidays, she would be involved in music while working part-time at Hartsfield Shisanyama. DJ Crazy Black of Shisanyama, is the one who helped Liz to become a perfectionist on the decks.

“While I was in Mzansi, I became exposed to different music as you know their music industry is diverse as well as their culture.

One day, I was approached by a guy who gave me a disc bag that had many records. DK Kent and Euphonic were in their prime then and I remember listening to their mixes from one of the CDs I was given by that guy.

“I instantly fell in love with their craft. When I came back home for the holidays, I was a part-time worker at Hartsfield Shisanyama and I was further exposed to music.

DJ Crazy Black somehow saw my passion for music and started teaching me some skills on the decks.

This was when I decided to come out of the shell and fulfil my childhood dream,” said DJ Liz.

She was an instant hit among patrons as her skills on the decks made her a household name in the local showbiz scene.

She became the face of 3D Family DJs and in 2018, she was crowned the Outstanding Club DJ at the Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards (RoilBAA).

Usually, female DJs are sidelined in the industry, some are sexually abused to be on the posters of the gigs while some are not paid enough. DJ Liz said these are means of suppressing women in the game.

“It’s very hard to be a female DJ. When a promoter wants to hire the services of a male DJ, they look at their skill and their capability in delivering their craft on the decks, but when it comes to women, sexiness and looks start to be the factors that are required for a female DJ to be hired.

“This has seen a lot of female DJs being sexualised and so on because they want to be on that poster and have the shine that comes with playing at a club.

Many lose their morals in this phase. Some, as we have seen, may start to perform naked and this has become a norm for female DJs.

“Sexual harassment is there, not only to female DJs but musicians as well as they go through a lot to please promoters to be hired regularly. And it seems that the industry has normalised this.”

The award-winning queen of the decks said females in the arts industry must learn to brand themselves and package their craft so well so as to gain respect in the industry, something she claims is the reason why she is always on each and every poster of international gigs that take place in the city.

“This whole thing is about branding.

I worked so hard to put the name DJ Liz out there. Covid-19 came and many DJs never made a comeback, but ever since the lockdown was eased, I found myself receiving calls from promoters to be on the line-up for their gigs.

“Recently, I shared the stage with Blaq Diamond, Vigro Deep, DBN Gogo and so on because it all comes back to branding. Promoters will only hire you if you are a brand to reckon with and female artistes must know that,” said DJ Liz.

The deejaying scene used to be dominated by males, however, the narrative has changed as females have since started to penetrate the industry, something that Liz said must be commended.

“The whole world is finally accepting female DJs and it’s a good thing for the entire industry.

We have the likes of Nervo (from Australia) who is a Grammy award-winner, Charlotte De Witte, DJ Zinhle, Amelie Lens and one of my favourites Dineo Ranaka.

“There’re also new names that are taking the world by storm like DBN Gogo who’s the most booked female DJ in Africa and Uncle Waffles.

Equality is starting to emerge in the deejaying industry and other sectors must follow suit,” said Liz

Apart from music, DJ Liz is a happy family woman and her social media life suggests that.

She is a mother to a beautiful daughter Taliah and she is the reason why she works up every day to hustle so as to secure a smooth and soft life for her daughter.

“Taliah is everything to me. When I was pregnant with her, my whole life changed.

I stopped going out because I valued her and wanted to keep my pregnancy private.

When the lockdown came, I got so much time to bond with my daughter and it was, and still is an amazing experience to be her mum because she completes my life.

“With her, I realised the beauty of motherhood and also, I’ve since learnt to be responsible and how to balance my parent role and business,” said DJ Liz.

Her pillar of strength is her twin sister, Sharleen.

She is always there as a supporting structure, be it in being a cheerleader every time Liz is performing, or generally in life.

She is always urging her sister to soldier on.

“In life, you always need a close person who’ll motivate you not to drop the ball and my twin sister is that person.

She’s shy and doesn’t like the media spotlight but every time I’m performing, she’s always there by my side.

“She brings character to my life.

When I’m on the decks, she always dances to my music and that on its own keeps me going. She’s part of the brand DJ Liz,” she said.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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